Since the dawn of digital marketing, brands have been trying to figure out how to make a personal connection with their targeted audiences. Without the benefit of meeting a prospect face-to-face before a sale, it can be challenging to create a personal experience. But it’s a challenge worth overcoming. Consumers expect a personalized experience from you, according to a 2017 study by Epsilon. Of 1,000 consumers (ages 18-64) surveyed, 80% said they would be more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalized experience. And 90% said they found personalization appealing. And, according to the marketing firm McKinsey & Company, personalization generates a higher ROI. Companies that implemented strategies around targeted communications experienced revenue growth ranging from 10% to 30%. Email marketing offers one of the most effective avenues for implementing personalization as part of your marketing efforts. Instead of sending blanket emails, a one-size-fits-all approach, you can use custom data (or custom field) tables to deliver a personalized experience that engages each of your subscribers. Why use custom data tables? Personalization can start with the basic data fields offered through your email marketing automation platform. Data tables will cover general areas that are relevant to all companies using the platform—name, email address, subscribe date, etc. You also may be able to further customize by adding in tables for birth date, gender, and geographic location, These all can be used to develop messaging that offers a personalized experience. But, in most cases, they can only take you so far. To get closer to an even more personalized experience, you can use custom data tables to identify other areas that are specific to your brand, your company, and your industry. It allows you the opportunity to be more creative and explore the types of content that engage your audiences. How to create a custom data table Depending upon the features of your email software platform, you should be able to easily select a tab to create a new data table. From there, you can create a heading for your table as well as a description. Your new table will give you the ability to add columns that will hold the types of data you will use in your campaign. And that’s the simple part, especially if you have a user-friendly software platform. The slightly more challenging aspect of creating a custom data table is determining the type of tables you will create using the data available to you. For instance, you may want to send email messages to subscribers based on their interest in purchasing cribs and other items for a nursery. Whether or not they’re first-time parents themselves, you may be able to start pulling in data based on age, marital status, home ownership, etc. to start building a more personalized email marketing experience based on this group’s shared interests in caring for a child. Another campaign can be built around consumers who show interest in college-related purchases. Special offers can be designed around back-to-school purchases and items likely to be purchased as part of spring break. The same with athletic gear. You will find variances within your email subscriber list by creating customization for subscribers who are interested in biking instead of long distance running. With B2B clients, the custom data specifics could be categorized by industry or job title and the subcategories related to those segments. After uploading email lists—specifying the custom data fields you want to include, you can start creating subject lines and content specific to each of your groups to boost engagement—open and click-through rates. When developing your content, avoid using customization only in the subject line and at the beginning of your message. You can be much more creative than that—and more personal. Carefully analyze areas where you can add customization within the body of your message. Think of ways to make it natural, not forced or awkward. If your message is in the form of a conversational one-on-one letter, find a place to mention the recipient’s name once again before closing out. Search for other opportunities based on the recipient’s demographics to add those custom fields. Remember: You’re trying to go after a personalized experience. Plopping a name at the beginning is only the start of creating a one-on-one experience. You don’t have to overdo it. Two to three more custom data fields can create that unique experience. More opportunities to use custom data fields In general, you have the opportunity customize the following areas as part of your personalized email marketing campaign:
- From line
- Subject line
- Body of email
Most marketers naturally provide custom data in the subject line and that first line of greeting in the email body. However, you also can quickly add customization to the “From” field. This especially works if you’re trying to engage subscribers in B2B interactions. Typically, the stakes are higher with these type of purchases. More than likely, you’ll develop a real-life relationship with your clients if your business is more service-oriented. Start off by making it personal. An email from “Mark” may immediately appear more engaging than an email from “Best Services, LLC.” Within the email body, you have more opportunities to showcase content that the user will find relevant. Use custom data fields to insert links, photos and other materials that showcase helpful information, special offers, services or products. The footer also is an often neglected opportunity to add customization. Use it as an opportunity to pull the user in. This would be a great spot to add a coupon, for example. How to use fallback terms Another critical component of a successful personalization campaign involves the use of fallback terms. As with most custom data tables, some will have blank spots. For example, you may only have the last name for a subscriber, not a complete first name. Susan Smith could have subscribed as Ms. Smith. Since you don’t want to run the risk of having an empty data field when you’re supposedly sending personalized emails, choose fallback terms that serve as default when the data is not available. If you’re in the business of selling shoes like DSW, you can use “shoe lover” as a fallback term—the company’s term for its shoppers. As always, test to see how your custom data fields are working before launching your campaign. Tweak as necessary to improve your open rates and to enhance the personalization of your messages.
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